My Project Management Expert

Project Management Plan - Intro

One thing which every Project Manager will be expected to deliver no matter how small a project might be is a plan. The idea behind this is to give the Project Manager and Stakeholders a clear idea of what needs to be delivered and when.

In practice it is used as a monitoring tool by the Business Stakeholders and Project Management Office (PMO) to assess how the project is progressing. It is for this reason that any Project Manager needs to be careful what plan they produce and then baseline, as it can mean the difference between going home at 5pm, or having to work until 8pm each day keeping it up to date!

To create a plan you'll need the following:

1. Project Management Software Tool

Most companies use Microsoft Project as their project management software tool. I would like to say that this is because it is the best in the marketplace, but unfortunately that is simply not the case. The reality is that for most companies it is easier to use software which already fits within their software suite than utilise something else.

2. High Level Plan

Without having a detailed scope which are only available when detailed requirements are complete, you will need to create a High Level Milestones Plan. As the name suggests this is simply a plan which allocates time to specific phases, rather than going into the detail contained within each phase as shown below.

Project Management Plan Simple Example

3. Low Level Plan

Once the detailed requirements are defined you can move onto increasing the detail in each phase. This should include specific tasks as well as named resources if possible. You should also at this stage start working out your milestones, dependencies and look into any over-allocation of resources.

4. Baselining The Plan

This is something the PMO are extremely keen to do. Essentially it means that your plan now becomes fact and any deadlines and tasks which are not delivered within the timeframe stated in the plan will be monitored and flagged for attention. It also means if you need to change the dates when tasks will be delivered it becomes a major exercise as the plan will need to be updated and then baselined again.

5. Updating the Plan

Many Project Managers feel the need to update their plan every day. If you try to do this you will soon go mad especially if your project is highly complex. It is far better to update it weekly and try to only update the task complete column rather than doing percentage complete. However this really depends on how much detail the PMO require from you.

Project Management Plan Tip

Keep any plan you develop short and simple. Remember it's not there to show how complicated your project is; it's there to help you deliver the project and you won't be able to do that if you're having to spend 2 hours a day keeping it updated because you went into too much detail.

For more information please check out the How to write a Project Plan section.

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